Author: Lisa Henry
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 262 Pages
Category: Fantasy, Romance
At a Glance: I was effortlessly drawn into this world and the story, and became a willing passenger on the journey and adventure. Overall, Anhaga is a satisfying and entertaining read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Aramin Decourcey—Min to his few friends—might be the best thief in Amberwich, and he might have a secret that helps him survive the cutthroat world of aristocratic families and their powerful magic users, but he does have one weakness: his affection for his adopted nephew, Harry.
When the formidable Sabadine family curses Harry, Min must accept a suicide mission to save his life: retrieve Kazimir Stone, a low-level Sabadine hedgewitch who refuses to come home after completing his apprenticeship… and who is in Anhaga, a seaside village under the control of the terrifying Hidden Lord of the fae. If that wasn’t enough, Kaz is far from the simple hedgewitch he seems.
With the Sabadines on one side and the fae on the other, Min doesn’t have time to deal with a crisis of conscience—or the growing attraction between him and Kaz. He needs to get Kaz back to Amberwich and get Harry’s curse lifted before it kills him. Saving Harry means handing Kaz over to his ruthless family. Saving Kaz means letting Harry die. Min might pride himself on his cleverness, but he can’t see his way out of this one.
The Hidden Lord might see that he never gets the choice.
Review: I love discovering new-to-me words. Anhaga, as it turns out, is an Old English word that meant recluse, which, in turn, means the titular city in which parts of this novel are set very much describes Kazimir Stone. If there were ever a prentice hedgewitch in distress, it’s him. He is reclusive by necessity, emphatically lonely as a result, and he becomes a reluctant, but ultimately acquiescent, bargaining chip in this fantastical and heartfelt tale. Kaz’s willingness to sacrifice himself to save a stranger’s life provides the measure of his moral character. His actions later prove nothing more than he is neither a victim of his lineage nor a product of his environment. Kaz is more than the mere sum of his individual parts. And he is so much more than he was ever given credit for by his hideous and unscrupulous grandfather, Edward Sabadine.
Aramin Decourcey is the rakish yet charming reprobate of the tale, as well as its unlikely hero, though he’s not half as heartless as he lets on. Min and his adopted nephew, Harry, find themselves in a world of hurt when young Harry is caught with his hands in the cookie jar—which, of course, is a euphemism. Harry was caught with his hands under Talys Sabadine’s skirts, is more accurate, and he earned himself a death curse for it from Talys’s snake of a grandfather. The deal Min strikes with Edward Sabadine should be simple for a career criminal with an trick or two up his sleeve—Kaz’s life in exchange for Harry’s. Min must deliver Kaz into the cold and hateful bosom of his family before the next full moon, to fulfill a horrific duty, and in return, Harry’s life will be spared. For a man like Min, the job ought to be rather straightforward…apart from having to enter the city of Anhaga, that is. No conscience, no inner voice to argue right from wrong, no other concern than to release Harry from his curse, it should be easy. But emotions and a growing admiration for Kaz, not to mention a healthy fear of what Kaz truly is, complicates things beyond Min’s capacity to ignore.
Lisa Henry has offered up just the right amount of imagination with the world building in Anhaga. I loved all the details of this society where magic and the fae both reign and work at a cross purpose. The revelations of Kaz’s ancestry and his terrible beautiful powers played in such great sympathy with his sweet and gentle nature. It was impossible not to see the boy who is a pariah and despised by his own flesh and blood, who was lied to and made to believe he deserved his family’s hatred and abuse, inside the fearful and enraged young man in the story’s pivotal moment of reckoning. Impossible for me, at least. For Min, it took a bit longer thanks to his inherently mistrustful nature.
Anhaga is pure fantasy fairy tale in which nothing is as it seems, the deepest and darkest forest holds mysteries untold and best avoided, and the fae instill fear in the hearts of humans. And as for the humans, they may be the most reliable of monsters. As a word of caution, for those who appreciate content warnings, there is a scene in which a transgender character is dead named and misgendered. While that character is not present in the scene, and thus doesn’t hear it, it served to delineate the speaker of those words as earning their callous and distasteful reputation, and it made me love Min and the person he stood up for all the more.
I was effortlessly drawn into this world and the story, and became a willing passenger on the journey and adventure. Evil does not flourish, the villain gets exactly what is deserved in the end—as it should be—and readers are offered not one but two happily ever afters, which was a lovely payoff for the misery they endured. One of the duplicitous characters—who, admittedly, was being handled, managed, and deceived—gets a bit of due comeuppance as well. Overall, Anhaga is a satisfying and entertaining read.
You can buy Anhaga here:
[zilla_button url=”http://authl.it/B07YMVYHBD?d” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button]